Surge In Sexual Diseases With Aggressive Rise In H-I-V Diagnoses

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The numbers presenting with sexually transmitted diseases has increased by 45% on this time last year according to figures provided to the HSE by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Following a drop in cases at the start of the pandemic, HIV diagnoses have surged by 84%, gonorrhoea by 61% while reports of chlamydia were up 44%. 1,441 people were diagnosed with chlamydia between January and March last year, whereas 2,075 were diagnosed in the same period in 2022.

HIV diagnoses are up more than 84% from 71 to 131 and gonorrhoea cases are up more than 61pc from 368 to 594.

Reported chlamydia cases went from 1,441 to 2,075, an increase of 44%, and syphilis was up more than 30pc, from 159 to 207 cases.

The HPSC said the number of chlamydia and gonorrhoea cases includes some batch notifications of cases confirmed through the online STI testing service that may contain some numbers from last year.

The numbers of reported STIs began to fall at the start of Covid in early 2020, health experts said. The HSE said potential factors behind the downward trend included a drop in sexual encounters as most social venues were closed.

Fewer people also presented themselves to GPs and STI clinics for testing, given there was a change in protocol as the HSE steered its resources toward Covid test analysis.

In relation to HIV, the HSE said a significant proportion of the new notifications in Ireland are by people who were already known to be HIV-positive in other countries before they came here.

In 2018, 217 of 523 of HIV notifications were previously diagnosed HIV-positive in another country.

The response of HIV Ireland to the increasing numbers of STIs was broadly similar to that of the HSE, citing a return to more social activity and more testing availability in explaining why numbers have gone up.

Stephen O’Hare, the executive director of HIV Ireland, said: “Of concern to HIV Ireland is the rise in cases of late diagnosis that colleagues are reportedly observing.

“There was also a nationwide outbreak of syphilis declared in 2021, affecting in particular gay and bisexual men, an outbreak that had been building in severity for some time.

“A programme of testing was put in place last summer to try to stem the outbreak.”